Premier Daniel Andrews to Front Vic Quarantine Inquiry

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
September 13, 2020Updated: September 14, 2020

Premier Daniel Andrews is set to appear before an inquiry into Victoria’s botched hotel quarantine program.

The state’s second wave of coronavirus, which has killed hundreds and forced Melbourne into the nation’s toughest lockdown, can be traced back to returned travellers at two hotels.

The premier confirmed on the evening of Sept. 13 he will give evidence to the inquiry, headed by retired Judge Jennifer Coate, on September 23.

“I established the Board of Inquiry into the Hotel Quarantine Program to find the answers that all Victorians are entitled to,” Andrews said in a statement.

“Given the program was established as a decision of National Cabinet I always anticipated that I would need to appear in order to provide the context for its beginnings.

“I can confirm I have been asked to appear on Wednesday 23 September and I look forward to assisting the Inquiry in its important work.”

The Age reports senior ministers Martin Pakula, Jenny Mikakos and Lisa Neville will also front the inquiry in its final week of public hearings.

Pakula’s Department of Jobs, Precincts and the Regions hired security contractors to oversee the quarantine hotels, while Mikakos’ Department of Health and Human Services was in charge of infection control.

Neville, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, will likely be questioned over the decision to use security guards rather than police or Australian Defence Force personnel.

The inquiry has heard former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton played a leading role in the decision.

On Sept. 15 the inquiry will hear from Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, who has claimed ADF support wasn’t even offered when the program as established in late March.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton will appear on Wednesday, with his deputy Annaliese van Diemen to also give evidence this week.

Ashton will appear on Thursday along with current police chief Shane Patton.

By Benita Kolovos